The Ride of My Life
Danielle has started a blog to share her experience and bike adventures, check it out HERE.
Danielle has started a blog to share her experience and bike adventures, check it out HERE.
In 2018 Jenny Rice completed the challenging Frog Graham Round becoming (at that point) the fastest female to ever complete it.
40miles over the fells and through the waters of the Lake District, a navigational challenge and test of physical endurance.
As well as this she has also competed in some of the toughest swim run events here in the UK and abroad, notching up a portfolio of races from
A personal inspiration to us here at WWW, we caught up with Jenny to find out how it all went, what drives her to take on such feats and what she has planned for 2019… we also went fishing for some tips on how to get started!
The Frog Graham Round was created by Peter Hayes (author of the awesome book ‘Swimhiking in the Lake District and North East England’) and is a 40 mile fell run with 4 swims across Bassenthwaite, Crummock Water, Buttermere and Derwent Water.
It takes its name from the Bob Graham Round, but the only similarities are the start and finish (Moot Hall in Keswick) and the first summit, Skiddaw. The route takes in 18 summits, 15,750ft ascent and approximately 2 miles of swimming.
I first heard about it in 2016 and started recce’ing the route with the aim to do it that summer, but before I knew it, summer had passed, and then the next, and I’d not managed to fit it in amongst various swim runs, fell races and family weekends. This summer, I was feeling confident about having a go – having got several long fell races under my belt, and I finally found a potential weekend that could work and the beautiful summer weather helped me make the decision to go non-wetsuit, aiming to save time, weight and faff! I was a bit scared to let people know what I was planning – I’ve only ever done races and events where I’m one of many taking part. But the idea of being the only person doing something, with people giving their time and energy to support, was really nerve-wracking. I spent evenings obsessing over and planning the time schedule, and quietly recruiting support runners for company (unlike the Bob Graham where support runners carry kit, food and drink, in the Frog you are expected to be self supported).
I found coming up with a schedule quite a challenge, not really sure what time I’d be aiming for, but aware my support runners needed some sort of guide! Dan Duxbury was super helpful, having recently set the fastest time (11:52). I looked at all of his summit times on Strava, and added a few minutes to each one, coming up with my own schedule of 13:30.
I hardly slept the night before, as much as I tried to tell myself I had nothing to worry about and that I was just going for a long day out on the fells and swimming in the lakes! My alarm went off at 3am but I was already awake.
I started at Moot Hall at 4.30am with Carrie Gibson joining me on leg 1. We had about 20 minutes to kill before the start time, so played around taking photos of me wearing my swim hat, goggles and running kit. The day started perfectly with the sun coming up as we climbed up Skiddaw. Once on the summit, we dropped down to Carlside, through Dodd Wood and Mirehouse & Gardens to the small church by Bassenthwaite where we met the support duo of Scully (my husband) and Jo Wilcox. It felt really weird arriving at the lake, getting changed and leaving Carrie, Jo and Scully, as I waded into the lake and swam across to meet Keswick local, Lee Procter at Beck Wythop. I disappeared into the bushes when I got to the other side, to change into a new (Helm Hill!!) swim bikini. (It’s important to change whatever you swim in after Bassenthwaite to try and prevent the contamination of other lakes with invasive species). Lee had been a star that week, I’d asked him last minute to support me on the first part of leg 2 over Barf, Lords Seat and Ullister Hill, as I’d not managed to fit in a recce. He’d gone out the previous evening to check he knew where Ullister Hill was – as he’d never heard of it – taking a photo of it and sending it to Dan Duxbury to check it was the right hill (it’s a very insignificant summit!). I loved these three hills, climbing up through the woodland to Barf was beautiful, and the next two hills went swiftly by (with Lee reminding me not to go too quickly!). I really appreciated Lee’s local knowledge through the tracks of Whinlatter Forest, and through the playground (taking in the slide!) to meet Scully, Jo W and support runner 3, Jo Rycroft at the Whinlatter Visitor Centre.
Jo R joined me on the next part of leg 2, which I felt like I knew like the back of my hand, having run the summits many times on recces and races. We ticked off Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Eel Crag, Wandope, Whiteless Pike and Rannerdale Knotts, chatting most of the way, stopping for lots of photos, and generally having a blast. I got a little excited as we hit 20 miles in less than 6 hours, I optimistically thought I might be able to get round in 12 hours. Little did I know how much slower I’d get!
By this point the weather was baking, and I couldn’t wait for the next swim. We got to the edge of Crummock Water, I topped up my sandwiches and swam over some scuba divers heading into the depths! Clive Allen (new Helm Hill recruit & work colleague) was waiting for me on the other side at Low Ling Crag. He’d drawn the short straw – leg 3 was just 5 miles but would take us 3 hours. As I swam to the shore, I could see him staring at Mellbreak with a look of confusion on his head. “You’re wondering which way we go up right?” I said, he said he was expecting to see a trod or something to suggest the way up! But no, it was straight up the steep, grassy climb to the left of the rocks (I’d tried the rocky gulley on a recce and decided it definitely wasn’t the best option!). 45 minutes of climbing in the stifling heat, we made it to the top of Mellbreak. From there, it was the reverse of the Buttermere Horseshoe to Red Pike. Onwards to High Stile, and then I totally messed up the descent. There is a path somewhere, but I recce’d it in 2016, and we didn’t find it! Instead we slipped, tripped and fell over lumpy scree and boulders, tussocks and hidden rocks.
On arriving at Buttermere, non swimmer Clive ran straight into the water in his running stuff! I got changed and swam across to meet Jo W and Scully and leg 4 support runners Janie Oates and Ed Newcombe. Next up was the climb I was dreading – straight up the fence line from Hassness to Robinson. I’ve done it a few times in Breca Buttermere, but it was so much worse after 30 miles over the fells! From Robinson it’s pretty much the Anniversary Waltz fell race route to Catbells, I stumbled and swore my way across the tops (sorry Janie and Ed!), and not quite able to enjoy the descents, I actually preferred the climbs! We dropped off a deserted Catbells (it was the world cup quarter final, hence on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we saw no one on the summit!) and down to Derwent Water. I wasn’t quite on track for a 13:30 round, and was slightly [very] grumpy on meeting everyone at Hawes End. But they told me to get a move on, otherwise I might not break 14 hours. Rick Stuart was joining me on this swim, although he insisted he wouldn’t go in front as for me to draft him would be cheating. I left my shoes on for this swim as we had to cross three islands, Otterbield, St Herberts and Rampsholme. I felt dreadful at the start of the swim, but was like a new person on the other side (although I did need help standing up!). But once I was upright, Rick led the way and we stormed it back into Keswick in 13 hours 47 minutes. I so enjoyed that post Frog beer!
I absolutely loved the whole experience of doing a challenge like this. I wish I’d been less worried about asking people for support. Everyone I asked just jumped at the chance to help. Extra special thank you to Jo W and Scully for their support all day, driving round runners and supplying me with food. I can’t wait to have another go in 2019 – as my time was matched (well, beaten by a few seconds!) a week later, by Kate Charles. Oh, and the weekend was topped off on Sunday by heading back to Keswick to see Kilian Jornet’s Bob Graham finish.
I used to do triathlons from the age of 17 to 22 but I just lost the love for racing as I would get annoyed if I didn’t get certain times – my mum would ask me why I was doing it if I didn’t enjoy it and so I just stopped racing, but carried on swimming, cycling and running for fun. Over the next few years I ended up cycling Lands End to John O Groats, swam an English Channel 3 person relay and Loch Ness 6 person relay, and ran my first ultra – the 44 mile Classic Quarter from the Lizard to Lands End. I think gradually doing these kind of challenges and events as experiences naturally led on to swimrun.
A friend of mine, Dave Murray, was one of the first British pairs to race Otillo back in 2008, and he just raved about the experience. We contemplated doing it together but back then the cost was too much for me (around £800) as a student. Little did I know how popular it would become, and how hard it would be to get a spot in the original event, now the World Championsbips. I forgot about swimrun for a few years, until Breca Buttermere was announced in 2015. My friend Claire Wilson and I entered, and along with 13 other pairs, took part in the first swimrun in the UK! We fell in love with the sport, and the following year entered Otillo Isles of Scilly, where we ended up qualifying for the Otillo World Championships in Sweden. I particularly love the courses that are a real journey – linking up islands by swimming between them. They are also almost always in spectacular places, and from the water you get such a unique perspective of dramatic landscapes.
I also love the teamwork aspect to it, all the sports I do have traditionally been very individual, but as you race swimrun in a pair, you really need to work together. It’s really rrefreshing.
I just really enjoy them! I love the physical challenge and the journey through mountains or coast paths, wherever the race happens to be. Although I’ve done well racing with my partners this year, I don’t really race for that reason. But doing well was a bonus this year!
The Frog Graham is very run heavy, the swims are relatively small part of it, but they are obviously significant if you can’t swim very well! Maybe have a go at the Tadpole Round first – a 7 mile circuit from Buttermere, with 2 swims and 2 runs. It’s a perfect taster of the full challenge.
For fell runners, the running is perfectly do-able, it’s no-where near the distance or ascent of the Bob Graham, so as long as you are capable of the swims, even if you’re a steady swimmer, it’s an enjoyable challenge. If your background is more swimming, then it’s a serious undertaking. I’d start off walking in the fells, and build up your distance. The great thing about the challenge is that there is no time limit (unlike the Bob Graham). People can, and have, walked the whole route.
If you’re looking at doing a swimrun, it’s a lot more accessible now than it was a few years ago – ‘sprint’ races are options (which are more like 2-4 hours racing, rather than 6-12 hours!) Also, there are more races generally. I think some great swimruns to get started are Hokey Cokey swimrun, Love Swimrun in Wales and of course, the Breca and Otillo sprint swimruns.
Finding a partner can be tricky, I’ve been lucky to find 3 fantastic partners that I work really well with. I think it’s more important to find someone of the same attitude that you get on with, rather than trying to find someone whose times match yours in the pool or running 10km. Using a tether in the swim can help match your swimming. It’s important to practice together and learn each others strengths and weaknesses. Watch out for each other – keep checking your partner has eaten enough, is warm enough, the pace is ok etc.
I’m keen to do as many fell races as possible this year, and especially the longer Lakeland Classics. I’m also doing my first ever Mountain Marathons: Marmot Dark Mountains with Cat Slater, and Scottish Mountain Marathon with Heather Ohly. Plus maybe Saunders MM with my husband Paul Scully, although we’ve been warned it’s not a good idea to do a Mountain Marathon with your partner! I’ll squeeze a few swimruns in, Breca Buttermere with Rick Stuart, and Breca Jersey with Claire.
Maybe also a challenge that rhymes with the Frog Graham Round…
By Rosabel Fowkes
Will the water be cold? What’s underneath? Will I be able to keep afloat? What will I look like? How far out will I be able to swim? What if I can’t? But what if I can…
Welcome to an anxious mind.
One in four adults like me will be affected by a mental health problem every year in the UK. This statistic is often quoted when talking about mental health and mental illness, which have – rightly so – become a more prominent issue in recent years. As fantastic as the increase in awareness is, there also needs to be consistency from professionals in implementing help for those who need it.
Various studies have examined the connection between nature and our well-being, and how they’re intrinsically linked. It is something that has also been recognised by the government in the 25 Year Environment Plan: “Spending time in the natural environment – as a resident or a visitor – improves our mental health and feelings of wellbeing. It can combat loneliness and bind communities together.”
The benefits we get from nature are very much down to us as individuals. Nature won’t miraculously turn you into a smiling Cheshire cat who’s jolly all the time (although I’ve found it definitely puts a smile on my face more times than not), but it helps in whatever form that may be.
The benefits of nature are clear. Now, where to go and reap them? The idea that we need to go on a huge expedition – scale a mountain with spectacular views in thirty seconds (not a building in sight) then top it off with a bungee jump just for fun – isn’t a prerequisite or necessary. Noticing what’s around you can be all it takes: the sunlight on the pavement, the sound of the wind moving through the trees, or how it feels to have ten minutes fresh air during your lunch break, are all catalysts that can help bring us into the moment.
You can feel calm, stressed, angry, cheerful, agitated, or downright awful. You can saunter up a hill, the sun shining and waltz around when you reach the top à la ‘The Sound of Music’, or you can be in bed, not wanting to face the day; but open the window just a crack and let the outside in.
There’s very much a desire nowadays for us to compare ourselves to each other or to feel uneasy that our ways of getting to where we want to be aren’t big enough. In society there’s pressure to have more, want more, be more. How about just ‘being’?
Let’s not underestimate the healing effect that being in nature can have on our lives, physically, psychologically and socially – I think it lets you be yourself. Nature never asks for anything in return, apart from perhaps to look after it the way we should all look after each other: with kindness, compassion and respect.
I dip my toes in tentatively
Acclimatising to the temperature
Swirling my fingers in the silky water
Creating ripples all around me
Every step deeper and deeper
Slipping and sliding on the smooth rocks underneath
Three, two, one
Launching myself into the unknown, but somehow l know I’ll be safe
The water keeps me buoyant
My body feels soft and secure in this underwater world
My friend says one of her favourite sounds is the breeze delicately winding its way through the island trees
I have to agree
Frustration rises that I can’t do breast-stroke the ‘normal way’
The energy it takes for me to keep my head above the water –
The shapes one of my hands and legs make
The feelings of vulnerability and sadness I can’t quite shake
Then, water casts its magic – like it does every time, reminding me to celebrate
What my body can do, what I can feel instead of what I can’t
Calm and acceptance will grow with time,
But I know that it’s okay and understandable to feel down and uneasy about it too
I roll on my back like a sea otter
Gaze up at the sky, the clouds passing by
Being here in the water makes me feel free
Being here in the water brings me back to me
Rosa is currently taking part in ‘RED January’, a campaign run by the mental health organisation, Mind, to encourage people to exercise for 31 consecutive days throughout the month highlighting the positive effect being active has on our mental well-being.
To sponsor Rosa and support her great efforts visit her JustGiving Page HERE.
Katie Edwards is unsuspecting. An illustrator, screenprinter & general embracer of the outdoors. In her professional life Katie has an impressive (and growing) list of high profile clients who have commissioned her to create custom, dynamic and creative solutions. Outside of work Katie is rarely seen standing still!
Mountain biking, swimming, paddle-boarding, practicing yoga and general adventures with Ryder, her energetic Kelpie, Katie appears to have that work /play balance figured out. We got together with Katie to find out more about the journey of Katie Edwards Illustration, what inspires her and how she manages to play just as hard as she works…
I left university in 2007 with the hope of being a freelance illustrator. I secured myself an agent through the process of entering a graduate competition and got noticed that way. I moved to London in the October of that year and got a part time job as a Graphic Designer, I got my first illustration brief that same month and that marked the start of Katie Edwards Illustration. It was a tiny illustration, just 6cm, commissioned by the Radio Times and I was so excited to have my first published commission. I continued like this for 4 years in London, splitting my time between part time work and commissions for various newspapers and advertising campaigns. I then got a job designing children arts and crafts which I loved but it was full time, which meant late nights working on my freelance briefs, but I made it work. Then we moved to Canada for over 2 years, where I continued to work on my freelance commissions along side jobs such Action Photographer, and Stone Carver. When we moved back to the Lake District 5 years ago after being away for 10 years that was the big plunge into running my business full time without any other income.
Photo by Milton Haworth
I tend to plan my day around the weather, if its a nice day, instead of 2 separate hour walks ( Rhyder is a 2 year old Kelpie x Border Collie and needs a lot of exercise) we’ll go for a bike ride instead. Or if its raining we’ll go for an early morning run in the woods, in summer we’ll go swimming in the lake or take the paddle board out (Rhyder will sit on it and then jump off every now and then to swim to the shore and back). We save the rainy days to get stuck into work. When I’m really busy a short local bike ride can take up less of my working day than two walks. I enjoy it more and Rhyder is tired out, double bonus.
On the days that I take out a few hours for an adventure I’ll get up and work early and work later into the night. I’m not a big TV fan, I’m quite happy working in the evenings if it means I get to get out and enjoy the sunshine.
When I first went full time freelance I felt guilty going for a walk or ride when I should have been working, and I wasn’t very motivated to go on my own when most people work 9-5. Rhyder is the perfect excuse to enjoy what I love doing in this amazing place that I live. No matter how busy I am he still needs exercise and is a welcome break for looming deadlines.
Getting outside is great stress relief and rest for your mind when everything is getting on top of you. I’m lucky to live a beautiful part of the Lake District. Woods, lakes, tarns and hill tops right on my doorstep, I rarely do the same walk/ride twice in one week. When I have meetings or gallery deliveries, Rhyder comes too and we explore a new place. He really is the perfect adventure buddy, loves everything I love and gets me outside every single day, rain or shine. When I lived in Canada, I really felt everyone worked to live, not lived to work. I wanted to keep this mentality. I work hard but I play hard too, in fact I tend to burn myself out and have to remember to take a day off every now and then.
A lot of my illustrations are nature or animal inspired. Sometimes I place objects or animals in unusual compositions to communicate a new idea, often funny, quirky or thought provoking.
I’ve recently being exploring mountain biking screen prints, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. ‘One More Brew’ finally kick started this, a collective of mountain biking creatives working towards a premiere night where we share our new biking inspired projects. As a result I now receive commissions to transform photographs of all sorts of outdoor activities into a unique screen print, they make a great gift. I have many outdoor adventure ideas in the pipeline, its just finding the time to do them.
Photo by Milton Haworth
That first published illustration was pretty special, but every commission is really exciting, going out to buy the magazine or newspaper its in, or your friend sending you a picture of your work on a hotel wall or a poster on the London Underground.
I love selling my screen prints direct to my customers at art shows. I do a little dance inside every time and you can’t help but smile from ear to ear. I’ve won 3 awards, 2 of them were in my 10th year of business, so that year was a very memorable time, I really felt all my hard work was paying off.
I’m currently working with the hotel chain Roomzzz and have been creating new screenprints for their new locations (three so far) Manchester was the first one and at the opening night the CEO that I hadn’t met before thanked me personally in front of everyone for all the art on the walls, that was pretty amazing.
My most noted low point was when I went freelance full time, when we moved back to the Lake District from Canada (it didn’t help that I missed Canada terribly). When I first started out I did a lot of self promotion and then when I didn’t have much time to work on my freelance work, I didn’t self promote, I just took the work that came to me through my agent, this worked fine as I was getting a good amount of work. So I thought if I have all my time to spend on my business surely I would be getting full time work. It didn’t work that way and it was actually my quietest time for briefs coming in. I had totally forgotten how to self promote and so much had changed since leaving uni. Social media marketing was all new to me and I was doing it but all wrong. After going on quite a few workshops it eventually started working for me. It didn’t happen quickly, its just about getting your name out there. There were a few times I looked at having to support my income with another job, but all my ideas were also freelance which would have been just as hard to succeed in. I have my other half Dave to thank, he believed I could do this full time, made me persevere and is very supportive. My business is now growing from strength to strength every year and I love what I do.
Be prepared to spend at least half your time on marketing and admin. Go on some social media courses, find one you like and do it well, its the most powerful free marketing tool. Network, get out there and meet people, I make a lot of sales through facebook and people that I know and their friends. Enter competitions, its a great way to be noticed by the right people, it can be disheartening to not get any where with them, but it only takes one to have a dramatic impact on your presence. Try to do art shows where you can sell direct to public, its great to talk to your potential customers, to build a relationship with them and hopefully they’ll want to follow you in your journey. If your having a creative block, go for a walk.
I have been invited back to my uni to do a professional practice lecture to my course, I’m petrified but honoured to be asked. My ongoing projects with Roomzzz is exciting, currently working on their Newcastle location. I’ll be teaching my first long term screen printing course at the Brewery Arts Centre starting in January. On a more personal note attempting to build our own house, getting married and trying to fit in as many adventures at home and abroad as possible.
By Katherine Beaumont
I loved fell running before my riding accident and was even fit enough to run the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Then we got pregnant, then we had Persephone, then, about 3 months after, my horse reared, flipped over backwards and landed with his rump between my legs, breaking my pelvis in 4 places.
Of course, I couldn’t run, or ride, or walk for a long time. I also had to spend long periods in a hospital far from home without my baby and family. I felt very sad, scared and sorry.
I had been doing yoga for about 10 years at this point, but to get fit. Whist lying on my back not able to move for hours, days weeks, I turned to meditation to help me cope. Soon after I started studying meditation and yoga philosophy, I discovered that I had been completely nuts. I crammed everything in, I was always occupying the next moment, I did everything while thinking about work and was always trying to distract myself from my inner pain. My horse certainly picked up on this (Im not surprised, the way I rode him) and he decided it was time I stopped.
What that horse taught me was how to heal. After coming out of hospital, I spent long periods meditating in the paddocks with my horses and their behaviour changed around me completely. I realised, that everything I had done with them had been motivated by fear; “I’ll put this bit in his mouth in case he tanks off.” “Ill shout at him then he will know I’m the boss.”
That day I changed my horsemanship. My partner sold his software business and I my interiors business and we bought a house with land that we could turn into a retreat. I now offer horse meditation, equine therapy, yoga retreats, eco therapy and wild swimming, cold water therapy.
I live for being in nature. Nature is not a means to an end, I no longer buzz from one bit of nature to another. I am absorbed by every tree, leaf and flower, rabbit, sheep. I am constantly processing and healing by the guidance of nature and animals so that I can help others do the same. Holidays are usually spent exploring nature and finding places for wild swimming. Today, I found a herd of about 60 goats in the alps and they were nervous so my son and I meditated and they came and lay down with us. Then they ate all our snacks. Its been, perhaps, the best day of my life. For the first time that I’m aware, I’m really really happy. xx
To see more of what Katherine does take a look at her business The Happiness Hub.
Emma Grunnill is a Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Nutrition Guide. She lives and works in Cumbria sharing her mantra –
“It’s not about ‘weight-loss’ it’s about health gain“.
For Emma, her passion is helping people feel happier, more confident and healthier (inside and out) without obsessing over that number on the scales!
Through her own personal journey Emma has built herself a business and career that she loves. Here she tells us more…